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Is There a ‘Best’ Diet for Weight Loss?

So, last week we discussed energy balance and the role it plays in weight gain and loss. This week I will attempt to present you with some facts about dieting.  

Today’s weight loss industry is misleading so many of us into believing that losing weight and transforming our lives can easily be achieved through a ‘quick-fix’ fad or diet plan!  Whilst in the short term this may well work for some, I want to provide you with the evidence to demonstrate that, in reality, it is unsustainable and will not lead to eternal happiness!  

Come on…what is a life without bread or chocolate?  Certainly not one I would choose…

But what if I told you that you can, and absolutely should, enjoy all the things you love whilst achieving your body goals? 

My ultimate aim is to simplify the science, clear the fog and guide you towards a more balanced, informed approach to nutrition.  Remember that your diet is your choice so make it an intelligent one that offers a longer, happier and healthier life.

Let’s start by looking at how some of society’s most popular diets work: 

Can you see the common theme here?  There is no magical reason why intermittent fasting is better than the ketogenic diet, they all work by creating a calorie deficit.  In other words, if you eat less calories than your body is consuming, the law of thermodynamics means you will lose weight, as we discussed last week.  

For optimal health there are, of course, other things to consider such as food quality, macronutrient balance and, dare I say it, genetics do play a part – not everyone can or should be slim.  However we are ‘not slaves to our genetic set points’ (Steven Novella), we can influence our ‘fate’ through the lifestyle choices we make.

So, I hope we all agree that if you consume fewer calories than you burn, fat loss will occur.  It is merely an equation of calories in vs calories out (CICO); simple science: 

Now we have established this, I want to highlight how recent research suggests that contemporary dieting often does not work.  When a number of diets were compared over time, they all appeared to be very difficult to stick to:

Whilst these approaches do work initially, over time the weight creeps back on because people cannot adhere to their structure and/or rigidity.  In other words, they do not match our lifestyles and can lead to sporadic or ‘yoyo’ dieting.  This more often than not has a huge emotional and physical impact that over time simply isn’t worth it. 

Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis that compared high and low carbohydrate diets concluded that there was no real difference in weight loss.

The bottom line is that no single, contemporary diet has the edge over another and maintainable weight loss all comes down to adherence and consistency.  As Steve Novella puts it ‘long term weight control requires sustainable strategies, not quick fixes and not magical diets’.  

The key is to find an approach that works for you over a period of time.  Don’t restrict the things you enjoy, life is far too short for that!  In fact, research suggests that people who heavily restrict in the short term, gain more over time than those who take a more gradual approach.  This is because psychologically we always want what we cannot have so will eventually binge on our self-proclaimed ‘forbidden’ foods.  

It is all about finding a balance and giving yourself permission to love life!  

I will end with a few sensible diet recommendations: 

1. Find something that works for you and you can see yourself continuing a year from now.

2. Include adequate protein.

3. Make nutritious food choices wherever possible –follow the 80/20 rule.

4. Move more!

5. Give yourself permission to enjoy food

6. Learn to love yourself!!! 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, please leave me some feedback and get in touch with any questions  😊

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